The rate of abuse of prescription painkillers has risen dramatically in the U.S. In a recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 32.7 million Americans indicated they’ve used opioid prescription painkillers for nonmedical purposes once in their life or more.

Pain medications containing opioids marketed under such brand names as Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, Demerol and Darvon are often readily available and when misused, highly addictive. Not only are these painkillers in and of themselves dangerous when abused, they can serve as a gateway into abuse of other drugs including the deadly opiate, heroin.

Effective treatment for painkiller addiction typically includes a phased approach that begins with drug detox and continues with an intensive outpatient or inpatient substance abuse treatment program that addresses the root causes of addiction. Learn more about The Ranch inpatient drug rehab program or call 844-876-7680.

Warning Signs of Painkiller Addiction

Painkillers prescribed by medical professionals make complex surgeries possible, relieve pain for millions of people, and enable individuals with certain medical conditions to control their symptoms. However, taking prescription pain medication without a doctor’s approval and supervision can be dangerous, and even deadly.

Painkiller addiction warning signs include:

  • Needing more of the painkiller to get the same desired effect
  • Continuing to use a prescribed painkiller even though the condition it was prescribed for has improved
  • If prescribed by a doctor, running out of the medication before the next refill is authorized
  • “Doctor shopping” for prescriptions
  • Difficulty concentrating or feeling “foggy” much of the time
  • Drastic shifts in mood and energy
  • Becoming defensive when others show concern for one’s use of painkillers
  • Avoiding social activities or interactions with loved ones
  • Decline in self-care: poor personal hygiene, eating habits and sleep patterns
  • Forgetfulness
  • Increased sensitivity to sounds and sights
  • Neglecting job, family, school or personal responsibilities

What Causes Addiction to Painkillers?

Painkilling opioid medications can have many beneficial effects when prescribed by a doctor for physical pain, but when abused, physical and psychological dependence can quickly develop. Commonly abused prescription painkillers include oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan), hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lorcet, Lortab), meperidine (Demerol), morphine (MS Contin, Kadian, Avinza), and hydromorphone (Dilaudid).

These prescription painkillers interact with the nervous system to block nerve signals that are perceived as pain. Many also act upon the parts of the brain associated with pleasure. When opioids are abused, the brain has a harder time naturally preventing pain and emitting pleasure signals as it has become dependent on the abundance of painkillers to do the work. This is when physical dependence develops.

Like other chemical dependencies, people are more susceptible to painkiller addiction when they also have co-occurring mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and personality disorders. The numbing characteristics and the “euphoric” effect provided by higher doses of some prescription painkillers can become a form of self-medication for people suffering from physical pain as well as psychological pain.

Painkiller Detox

Without supervision by medical professionals, withdrawal from opioid painkillers can be unpleasant to very painful depending on the physical make-up of the person and the amount of time the painkiller has been abused. Opioid detox is different for everyone, but withdrawal symptoms may set in within hours of the last use, worsen over several days and remain present for a few weeks. This is why medical care is critical for painkiller detoxification.

Painkiller withdrawal symptoms depend on the individual but may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Shaking/tremors
  • Confusion
  • Body aches

Medical professionals can administer drugs such as Suboxone® and naltrexone to ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings and provide a safe, comfortable detox experience. They can also monitor vital signs and attend to any life-threatening situations immediately. Learn about our drug detox and stabilization program or call 844-876-7680.

Painkiller Addiction Treatment

No one sets out to become addicted to pain medication. It can be an easy trap to fall into, but also one that is escapable with the help of trained medical professionals who can gradually wean the person off these substances, ease withdrawal symptoms, address underlying issues and provide appropriate pain management support.

At The Ranch drug and alcohol rehab center, we take a multifaceted approach to drug addiction that seeks to heal the whole person, not just eliminate the destructive behaviors. First, our state-of-the-art drug detox program draws upon the latest evidence-based medications and approaches to prevent discomfort and cravings and also begins to address the mental, emotional and spiritual wounds at the root of addictive behaviors. Once clients have safely eliminated drugs from their body, they transition into a comprehensive drug rehab program that helps them explore underlying issues contributing to addiction, manage co-occurring mental health disorders, develop healthy coping skills and heal mind, body and spirit through an array of traditional and experiential approaches. Learn more about our specialized Tennessee drug rehab program or call 844-876-7680.